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Man of the People: That'll really put the fear of God into Ulster's thugs.

Byline: Jason Johnson

FEAR of God? Blimey! I bet that has the gangster paramilitaries laughing.

There's the PSNI preaching that the bad guys are scared of Him, as most of the bad guys sit in the bar knocking back stolen vodka.

Most of these fellas have no reason to fear God.

God's never stopped them going about their business.

He doesn't protect the shops they rob, He doesn't blow the whistle on money launderers.

He doesn't warn their victims beforehand that they're in for a hiding and He doesn't put them in court when they're nabbed.

He doesn't even intercept drug imports and He hasn't a clue about the locations of the scores of little arms dumps across Northern Ireland.

And He certainly doesn't bother the guys higher up, the real people in crooked power.

That's the job of the cops.

God's got other things to do.

It's the cops who are supposed to be putting the fear of themselves into the gangsters.

And I'm sorry to say that `the fear of Orde,' as one TV report referred to Assistant Chief Constable Alan McQuillan's comments, has no more got Ulster's crooks on the run than my ailing goldfish has.

The PSNI might be targeting the gangsters, but it's still undermanned, under-resourced and without the brains it had a couple of years ago.

People have less confidence that cops can help them at all.

In fact it's the public who have the fear of God in them, not the gangsters.

Now all this isn't the fault of the police.

They can only work with the tools they're given and they will admit they're a chisel or two short of a full set.

Gangsters

This is fear of God on a budget. It's a nervous twitch.

But the PSNI can't expect us all to believe thousands of gangsters are distressed because the odd one is lifted and operations are `on-going.'

Folks, make no mistake. This is just to keep us sweet.

Okay, what if the police were right?

What if hundreds of gangsters were terrified and did end up behind bars?

Well, put it this way.

Paramilitary rackets run the length of Northern Ireland.

Loyalists alone earn upwards of pounds 2m in western Scotland - some say pounds 10m.

They have huge drugs operations in Holland, Spain, England and - closer to home - are linked with the criminal fraternity in the Republic.

And there they meet up with their contacts in the IRA, who bank roll a few mil too.

A few arrests in a Belfast back street isn't putting any fear of any God into anyone.

Yet it's obvious that there are people sitting at home today in Northern Ireland who have many fat fingers in many juicy pies.

They are absolutely loaded and are as free as birds.

Cops know of some of them, but haven't a clue about others.

But these are the real fellas who put the fear of God into others, because they've literally got the power of life or death.

All this `fear of God' stuff has been very impressive language, but it's meaningless.

In reality nothing has changed, and nothing is changing.

To do that will take more than mighty Biblical words and a new Chief Constable who wants to make his mark.

And, ;et's cut the crap, it will take more resources too.

So let's be honest about who's really frightened here, and if we are really winning the war on crime.

And, please, leave the big man upstairs out of it.

I'm pretty sure He's had enough of us lot anyway.

CAPTION(S):

NOT GOD: But Alan McQuillan should be scaring villains
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Nov 3, 2002
Words:607
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